Some international schools and graduate programs are better than others. Periodically, we select the best places to study and provide other information to help you on your academic road to an international job.
Our selection of the best graduate programs for international work is based on reputation within the field, international emphasis, international opportunities for students, usefulness of the degree within the international field, and placement of graduates in international positions. Our rankings are informed by interviews with professionals in the field and the staff of the various schools.
. Univ. of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, The Lauder Institute, Philadelphia, PA. The Wharton School is arguably the best business school in the world. Other strengths of the program include a six-month internship overseas and a very strong placement record.
2. Columbia Univ., School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA), New York, NY. SIPA has an extensive offering of courses in both functional and regional areas. It is the largest non-business graduate program and offers extensive internships and summer jobs abroad programs. Its location in New York puts SIPA at the center of the international community. Among its strongest programs are those in economic development, media, public policy, and regional programs in Japan and Russia.
3. INSEAD, Fontainbleu, France. Europe offers a number of MBA degree programs that are widely accepted in Europe. At this most prestigious of the European schools, approximately 10 percent of the student body is American. (All classes are taught in English.)
4. London Business School, London, U.K. LBS offers a traditional two-year American-style MBA with a heavy emphasis on European business.
5. Johns Hopkins Univ., School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC. SAIS’s base in Washington means numerous internship possibilities. A strong academic program and a study center in Bologna, Italy are among its other strengths.
6. Princeton Univ., Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton, NJ. Woodrow Wilson’s strength is in public policy. Placement in U.S. government positions is among the strongest of all the schools. Strong cooperative programs also exist with other graduate programs across the country. Its weakness is an overemphasis on public policy.
7. Georgetown Univ., School of Foreign Service, Washington, DC. Georgetown is the traditional training ground for foreign service officers. It has a solid business program and very good internship possibilities.
8. Tufts Univ., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Boston, MA. The Fletcher School has historically sent many graduates to work in the State Department. Joint programs with Harvard and a strong placement office keep the school among the best.
9. Univ. of California, School of International and Pacific Rim Studies, San Diego, CA. The relatively new School of International and Pacific Rim Studies lays claim to a part of the world many say will be the major economic power of the next century. Very strong emphasis on professional and practical training puts this school in the top 10.
10. Univ. of South Carolina, College of Business, Program in International Business, Columbia, SC. Aggressive international MBA program. Works hard to be considered “the” international MBA program.
Other Schools of Note
A number of schools offer potential for international employment but do not market themselves as internationally oriented schools. Many top graduate business schools in the U.S. offer great potential for international employment and should be considered by the future international businessperson. Cambridge and Oxford universities in England also have plans to initiate MBA programs and should provide interesting opportunities.
Other schools that offer interesting international study opportunities but did not make our list include:
Harvard Univ., JFK School of Government, Cambridge, MA; Univ. of Washington;IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland; Thunderbird-American School of International Management, Phoenix, AZ; Monterey School of International Studies, Monterey, CA.
Things to Keep in Mind
• A master’s degree in a political science or international relations is not a professional degree in international affairs. Look for schools that emphasize the practical applications of international studies rather than its theoretical approaches.
• Most of the top schools are still in the U.S. While a few good business schools in Europe are worth checking out, remember that European schools have little name recognition here; this may be a problem should you eventually want to come back to the States and work. Going abroad ensures a good cultural experience; it does not ensure a quality education. Financial aid can also be a problem abroad.
• Do not go to law school if you want to work in an international field. American trained lawyers work in the U.S.; and most rarely do anything international.
Get Work Experience First
• Both for your sake and because the best graduate programs recommend it, you should have some work experience related to the international field you choose. This should help you understand the real nature of an international career and avoid the common mistake of choosing an international career in order to travel.
Never choose a graduate school simply because “international” appears somewhere in the title of the program. There are 20 so-called international programs for every one that really gives you practical, employable experience.
A number of fields of study can prepare you for an international career. If you want to do computer programming in Europe, a degree in computer science is appropriate; if you want to do accounting in Singapore, you should have an accounting degree. However, for international work, the best route is to go to international schools where you can then specialize.
Narrowing Your Choices
• Professional schools of international affairs get high marks in functional areas related to international organizations of all types. All have areas of functional and regional emphasis and all emphasize the practical aspects of international work.
• The most international MBA is one gained in Europe. However, European MBA’s have not been completely accepted in the U.S.
• A school should be located where students can work in international internships, a key part of international training, and meet professionals working internationally. Look for big cities and access to international populations.
• Choose a school with a reputation for finding jobs for its graduates. The school should have its own placement or career services office, not one shared with a central career office. The office should be tied into a strong alumni network. Remember, the name of the game is getting a good job after graduation.
DR. BOB SANBORN is Dean of Student Affairs, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA